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Brazilian presidential profile: José Serra

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Brazilian presidential profile: José Serra

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He’s held some of Brazil’s most important political posts, but José Serra has had his eyes on the top job for a while. This is the second time the 68 year old opposition leader has run for president. He went up against Lula unsuccessfully in 2002. Serra is a political heavyweight, having been a senator, and both mayor and governor of Brazil’s economic engine room, Sao Paulo.

The son of poor Italian immigrants as a student union head he was forced to flee the country, for exile in Chile and then the US for 14 years. A founder of Brazil’s social democrat party, Serra was a key figure in Henrique Cardoso’s government, notably health minister from 1998 until 2002. His efforts to produce cheaper drugs for Brazil’s HIV/AID programmes, received widespread acclaim.

Like his main rival candidate Dilma Rouseff, Serra is considered more capable than charismatic. During the campaign he said: “We can have an ethical government. A government that focuses on the people and not on party politics and select groups. We want a government that is focused on all our fellow citizens, a government for the Brazilian people.’‘

A trained economist the only job arguably missing from the seasoned politicians political portfolio is the Presidency. Which ever way the vote goes, Serra’s shown he’s got staying power.